Parenting comes with an endless amount of love for your kids, and an almost as endless list of questions. While, sadly, there’s no single go-to handbook with all the answers for raising happy, healthy, well-adjusted kiddos, there are plenty of books packed with expert advice based on science and experience that might just have the answers to parents’ most pressing questions. Here, we tackle 10 of them.
How do I hop off the hamster wheel of child achievement and support children who develop on their own timeframe?
If your child is not a prodigy and has not zeroed in on a passion already and that has you a bit worried, take a deep breath and pick up a copy of “Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement” by Rich Karlgaard. This book will reassure you that they’ll be fine and leave you feeling thankful after reading the chapter on the many strengths showcased by late bloomers, including curiosity, resilience, compassion, and wisdom. Karlgaard shows how the focus on succeeding early in life is misplaced and reminds readers that there are multiple blooming periods in our lives.
How can I help my sensitive child navigate and thrive in a sometimes rough world?
Pediatrician and professor W. Thomas Boyce, MD, uses a botanic metaphor and ground-breaking research in his new book “The Orchid and the Dandelion: Why Some Children Struggle and How All Can Thrive.” The book aims to help parents recognize the gifts of highly sensitive children and the struggles they may face as a result of their temperament and behavior. Boyce suggests ways parents can support them and create environments full of love in which they can succeed and thrive.
I’m exhausted. How do I get my kid to sleep like a champ?
Good news — sleeping through the night is possible, and parents can get some valuable, concrete advice on how to make that happen in “It’s Never Too Late to Sleep Train: The Low-Stress Way to High-Quality Sleep for Babies, Kids, and Parents” by Craig Canapari, MD. Canapari is the director of the Yale Pediatric Sleep Center and he has been a sleep-deprived parent, so he knows of what he writes. This is a good book for parents worried that they missed their window as it’s still relevant for kids up to age 6 who are struggling to achieve healthy sleep.
I’m an introvert. How do I turn the volume down on the noise and chaos that comes with parenting before I lose my mind?
“Introverted Mom: Your Guide to More Calm, Less Guilt, and Quiet Joy” by Jamie C. Martin is a must-read for introvert moms, and even those who may be extroverts but have a few introvert tendencies (after reading this, you may realize you were more of an introvert than you realized). Parenting can feel overwhelming, but this book will help you put on your oxygen mask first, which will make you a better mom and happier human being.
My tween/teen daughter is showing signs of anxiety. How do I help her manage or prevent this?
“Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls” by Lisa Damour, Ph.D. is the follow-up to her very popular bestseller, “Untangled.” The rising tide of stress and anxiety in girls but not in boys motivated her to write the book, which addresses that stress can serve a purpose but that emotional overload does not. Damour shares tips on protecting girls from perfectionism, advice on handling toxic pressures from society, and coping strategies to prevent and deal with anxiety attacks.
The college admissions process is just plain out of control. How can I help my high schooler navigate it?
If you’re looking to help your high schooler find a good fit for college in ways that do not involve criminal consequences (and we really hope that’s the case), then both you and your teen should check out “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be” by Frank Bruni. It came out a few years ago, but it’s more relevant than ever. He emphasizes that Ivies are not necessary for exceptional success and illustrates that it’s what kids make of the opportunities available at nearly every college that will really set them on a path to success.
My college kid seems really stressed out and it’s worrying me. How can I help them?
Just because your children don’t live at home full-time doesn’t mean you’re not still a parent with worries. In fact, late adolescence and the college years are often when kids are on their own for the first time and also when mood disorders and mental health issues emerge. “The Stressed Years of Their Lives: Helping Your Kid Survive and Thrive During Their College Years,” by Dr. B. Janet Hibbs and Dr. Anthony Rostain, offers parents practical tips on helping college students get the help they need. It also shares how parents can intervene before it’s too late.
How can I be a happier parent?
“The Gift of a Happy Mother: Letting Go of Perfection and Embracing Everyday Joy” by Rebecca Eanes focuses on letting go of not just perfection, but also guilt, regret, fear, and “should.” Eanes does not do deep dives into any of those heavy topics, but rather encourages journaling and offers advice and insight for exploring them yourself. She does so in an easy way that feels manageable. You don’t have to radically overhaul your life or parenting style. Rather, the book is about how making even small shifts can have a big impact on your overall happiness level.
How do I make it clear to my kids that I’m the adult in the house?
One of the (very many) reasons parenting is a challenge is that parents are in a position of authority with a simultaneous need to foster a child’s autonomy and agency. How to manage the inevitable push and pull this naturally creates is the focus of “Being the Grownup: Love, Limits and the Natural Authority of Parenthood” by Adelia Moore. Moore focuses less on what parents should do in specific instances and more on how to think of parenthood generally and how to establish a relationship with children based on trust, connection, and, yes, authority. Topics range from attachment to temperament to family systems theory to body language.
I want to empower my child to stand up for what’s right and make an impact. How do I do that?
Many children have a strong sense of right and wrong and they want to fight injustice when they see it. Little kids can and often do make a big impact. Parents who want to empower their children to bring about change should pick up a copy of “I Wish for Change: Unleashing the Power of Kids to Make a Difference” by Kyle Schwart, a third-grade teacher. (Release date is July 16.)